Episode 330 - Catching Up with Kenyatta In Quarantine / A Source for German Genealogy You May Never Have Heard Of

podcast episode May 31, 2020

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin by talking about Fisher’s latest heirloom acquisition. It’s an Irish shillelagh, often called a “walking stick,” that was brought back to New York from a trip to Ireland by Fisher’s great great uncle, David Fisher. Fisher explains how he obtained this fascinating family piece. Then, David talks about a remarkable collection of World War I photographs that we can all now access for free. He will tell you where to look! David then shares the story of where the original “Getty Images” are stored and what it takes to get into that physical archive! (It’s unbelievable!) Do you descend from an accused “witch” of Scotland? You may be able to find out now that a very old book has been digitized and placed on line. David gives further details. In Rome, a sink hole has revealed a piece of history that dates back to 25BC. (Maybe your ancestor’s were familiar with it.) David explains. In China, a 32-year-old adoptee has been reunited with his birth parents from whom he was kidnapped thirty years ago! Catch the heart tugging details.

Fisher next catches up with the renowned genealogist, Kenyatta Berry, author of the “Family Tree Tool Kit.” Through the pandemic, Kenyatta has a lot going on. It begins with a new project… a book profiling five African-American individuals who played important roles in major events in American history. Then, to add to genie education, she outlines in the book how she was able to document and research each figure. And that’s just the beginning of everything Kenyatta is working on!

Then, Jim Beidler of Legacy Tree Genealogists visits with Fisher about a unique record set from Germany. And these records go back centuries in very specific places! If you are working your German ancestry (as Fisher is) you’ll want to know about these records, where to find them, and what Jim himself has learned about his ancestors through them. 

David then returns to the show for another pair of listener questions in our “Ask Us Anything” segment.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 330

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 330

Fisher: And come on in! It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well, great to have you along genies. I’ve got some great guests for you today. Kenyatta Berry is going to be here later on in the show. We’re going to catch up with her. She’s got a lot of things happening and some things I know that might involve you, so we’ll hear what she’s got to say. Plus, we’re going to be talking to Jim Beidler today. He’s with Legacy Tree Genealogists. He’s going to be talking about a unique German record set that you might not know anything about. I hadn’t heard of it before and that will be coming up later on in the show. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, make sure you do it through our Facebook page, or through ExtremeGenes.com. We give you a blog each week from me, links to past and present shows and links to stories you’ll find pretty amazing as a genealogist. But right now, it is time to head out to, let’s see, where are you this week David, Stoughton, Massachusetts doing the show?

David: Yes, virtually there.

Fisher: Virtually there in his own hometown in his own home for that matter. It’s David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. A very long title. How are you doing buddy?

David: Hey, I hear that you’ve got some wood from Ireland that arrived in your house.

Fisher: I finally got it. I talked about this a little last week because there was a third cousin once removed in Minnesota who came across this in his house, and we have the provenance on that as we talked about, right? There’s a letter from his great grandfather who was a 24-year-old back in 1884. And so, my great, great uncle David Fisher, he’s the brother of my great grandfather, he went over to Ireland because his wife was from there, and when he came back, he had an Irish shillelagh with him which was made from a blackthorn bush, basically. And they store them up in chimneys so they can cure, sometimes for years and that’s how they get that shiny black look. Anyway, he sent it on to me, and it’s amazing. It’s like a cane. My wife says it makes me look at least 80-years-old to be walking around the house with it, but I love it.

David: [Laughs] Oh, goody.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: That’s awesome that when you find something that is more than just, say a picture.

Fisher: Oh yeah!

David: But that’s great. Now you can pose your grandchildren with it and you can decide which one you’re going to leave it to.

Fisher: Yes, I have somebody in mind already you know, because you never know when you’re going to go, right?

David: Exactly. Hey listen, are any of your grandchildren taller than the shillelagh?

Fisher: Yeah, yeah, pretty much.

David: So, you don’t have to use it as a growth stick? [Laughs]

Fisher: No, no, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to do that today

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: All right David, let’s get on with our Family Histoire News today. Where do you want to start?

David: How about some panoramic news? This is actually a free database from Fold3.com. Now, Fold3 is owned by Ancestry and what they have placed online, perfectly for those World War I researchers in our listener group, these are World War I panoramic unit photos. You know, those long photos of the World War I veterans?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: 641 of them and the database is complete. Now, this isn’t everyone that was ever taken, but these are from the collections of the National World War Museum. And I think it’s a great free database, and you can zoom right in. And because some of them have the name associated with them, they are linking the names too.

Fisher: Wow.

David: So, I just put in Massachusetts, my home state, and I was able to find Massachusetts, a photo taken near Westfield and each one of the people in the photo’s identified.

Fisher: Wow! That is amazing and it’s free on Fold3.

David: That’s true.

Fisher: Love it.

David: Speaking of photos, I’m going to go to Pennsylvania now. About 90 minutes north of Pittsburg, some place that would be harder to get into than Fort Knox practically. You have to have proper identification. You pass armed guards and then taken several hundred feet underground into a limestone mine where you could find, ready for this? Eleven million photographs. These are the Getty images, the original pictures. I’m sure our friend Maureen Taylor would spend a lifetime over there going through them. [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh yes! Absolutely. That’s amazing. So, these are the old photos then that they have from Getty, because obviously they’re still doing new ones, but those are all digital.

David: Um hmm. That’s true. I mean, the collection started 85 years ago when a young Otto Bettmann from the Bettmann Archives arrived in New York with his heavy steamer trunks and, you know, hustled around the country. And his first job was a rare book curator and he just started being interested in photographs, and well, that’s where it started.

Fisher: Huh, interesting.

David: Let me tell you what’s really interesting. Going over to Scotland and finding out your ancestor was a witch.

Fisher: Aha.

David: Yeah, you don’t have to do it by going to Scotland. Online, you can now find a 350-year-old book that was published online just recently that list everyone who was accused of witchcraft back in 1658.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s amazing. That would be really fun. Hey, look, there’s my ancestor, the witch. That’s maybe where I got these magical powers.

David: You know, it’s true, and its estimated there were between 3000 and 5000 women that were publicly accused of being a witch in the 16th and 17th century, actually a much higher rate than what was in England and far more than what was accused in New England. You know, you never know when there’s a pothole in the ground, in what you might find your lost car keys or a sinkhole, you might find a car.

Fisher: Right.

David: Well, in Rome they found a sinkhole that has remnants of Imperial Roman pavement, dates back to 25 B.C. according to the report. And well, they’re not quite sure what they’re going to do with it. They’re obviously not going to go down to the original level. It’s right near the famous Pantheon. So, if you want to walk on the steps of your ancestors, here’s your chance.

Fisher: Wow!

David: The problem is getting to Rome during COVID.

Fisher: Yeah, the problem is getting to Rome during COVID. [Laughs]

David: I wanted to share one more story that is breaking news. In China, a little boy was kidnapped 32 years ago, and this young man has recently reconnected with his parents. He was kidnapped from a hotel in 1988 as a two-year-old, sold for about $800 US to a couple that didn’t have a child. And now with the advent of both DNA and a little bit of investigating, he’s now connected with his natural parents. What a great story.

Fisher: Wow! Yeah, it is a great story. It’s got to be confusing and hard for him.

David: Well, I mean, to spend three decades plus and not even really probably having many memories of it at all.

Fisher: None, yeah.

David: I mean, I can’t remember things beyond the time I was three years old. Can you?

Fisher: Not much. You’re right. [Laughs] All right, thank you David, good stuff as always. And we’ll talk to you at the back end of the show as we do another round of Ask Us Anything.

David: Sounds great. Talk to you soon.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to catch up with Kenyatta. Kenyatta Berry joins us, the renowned genealogist out of California. You’ve seen her on television and elsewhere when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 330

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kenyatta Berry

Fisher: Well, it has been a while, and it’s about time we got caught up with Kenyatta. Kenyatta Berry on the line with me from California right now on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Of course, you know Kenyatta from Genealogy Roadshow some time back. She is the author of The Family Tree Toolkit, which is an awesome book. In fact, what did you tour the whole country last year, right Kenyatta, and met lots of people everywhere? So, she is quite the celebrity in the family history space. How are you doing Kenyatta? It’s great to have you back.

Kenyatta: I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me back. And yes, I did for my book tour, for Family Tree Toolkit. It was called Conversations with Kenyatta, and I did about 19 cities.

Fisher: Wow!

Kenyatta: And that’s not including some of the big conferences that I went to as well.

Fisher: So, this is a woman who just quit her career to do this book and move forward. I mean, you were a brave person.

Kenyatta: [Laughs] Yes. Yes. I am.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kenyatta: I’m sure it’s didn’t go well with my mom [Laughs] from having a stable career in software and go hey, I’m going to do genealogy full time. But you know I love it. I’ve been involved for so long. And I felt that after writing a book, as you know, as a labor of love.

Fisher: Oh, yes.

Kenyatta: So when you do it, I thought I would need to go out and kind of meet folks that are just getting started with genealogy and just getting interested in it. The book was written to help beginners, so, The Family Tree Toolkit. I kind of thought about hey, what would I have wanted 20 plus years ago when I got started? And so I found on the tours that it was really cool to help people kind of get beyond those brick walls or kind of help them if they’re just overwhelmed.

Fisher: Yeah. Where were you 40 years ago if what I’m wondering here when I was starting.

Kenyatta: [Laughs]

Fisher: The book is just perfect.

Kenyatta: I wasn’t doing genealogy yet.

Fisher: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. And then you put together this partnership with our friend Rick Voit from Vivid-Pix.

Kenyatta: Yeah. So, Rick and I, we have known each other for quite some time so Rick was one of the sponsors of my book tour. And what he did is created these very lovely bookmarks that included information about me and my paternal side of the family, so my dad, my granddad, and my great aunt on that side. And Rick and I, because of our working relationship and with the book tour and everything else and I used the Restore Software from Vivid-Pix, I’ve used it actually both in presentations for photos as well as documents. And we decided why not expand on that partnership? And we recently announced a bundle of The Family Tree Toolkit and Restore. And you can go to Vivid-Pix.com/Kenyatta to see what it’s about. But one of the things that you need, if you say well, I already have Kenyatta’s book, right, or I wanted to buy it but now I can get it somewhere else. What’s unique about this is that I actually send you an autographed copy of The Family Tree Toolkit.

Fisher: Ooh very nice. And of course, Restore is just a tremendous piece of software for instantly fixing your pictures. You don’t have to have any skills. Well, one skill, you have to be able to push a button. That’s about it. [Laughs]

Kenyatta: Yes. [Laughs] That is very true.

Fisher: And now you’re working on a new book as well.

Kenyatta: Yes. So, it was like a challenge. And for my new book I talk to my literary agent about it briefly and kind of decided that I had The Family Tree Toolkit is really a “How to” book, right?

Fisher: Yes.

Kenyatta: So, wanted to do something different, but wanted to kind of leverage the knowledge and my experience in African American genealogy. So, I decided for the new book I can only give you just a very high-level, but we will focus on African American genealogy. And I will profile five individuals from over 200 years of American history, right. So, each individual will tie into certain major events that occurred in the United States. And then throughout that process, how do you uncover that information about them, what documents do you use, and how to really fit them into the historical narrative.

Fisher: That sounds like quite the undertaking. And gee, I imagine you have a little time right now, right, because you’re not doing the speaking. You can’t be out there too much. How are you holding up during the pandemic?

Kenyatta: I’m holding up pretty well here in Santa Monica.

Fisher: Okay.

Kenyatta: It actually feels good though to be at home. This is the longest I’ve been at home actually since I’ve lived in this apartment for 10 years.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

Kenyatta: From getting fired, to writing The Family Tree Toolkit, and leaving my software job, I travelled all the time across the country. My territory at one point was North America.

Fisher: Oh. [Laughs]

Kenyatta: Yeah. [Laughs] so I travelled a lot. Primarily just in the U.S. I traveled a ton and so I’m not really used to being home. And so I’ve kind of become reacquainted with my apartment in a certain way.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: But it’s also allowed me to focus, which I think is really cool and important. And I’ve also been able to take a look at my own genealogy which I haven’t had time to do. 

Fisher: You know, I think for an awful lot of people this is the best way to keep your mental health is to delve into some of these things and rediscover some of your ancestors or discover them for the first time. See some of the things they’ve endured over the course of their lifetimes. So, tell me about your DNA course that you’re working on.

Kenyatta: Yes. So, I am given that everyone’s sheltering in place, right. We see a lot within genealogy and I’m sure you’ve seen where we now have some conferences moving online.

Fisher: Yes, NGS.

Kenyatta: Yes, NGS. Yes, we have a ton. So, you now see these conferences and then courses, right, on as well.

Fisher: Right.

Kenyatta: And I decided that what I’m launching is called Beginning Your Genealogy Journey. And the idea of the course is really kind of following up on The Family Tree Toolkit in that it helps people who are hobbyists or amateur genealogists, or you’ve just done your DNA so now what, Right?

Fisher: Yeah.

Kenyatta: I’ve gotten this beautiful picture and chart I can show to everyone via email or on Zoom or whatever you want it through, but what does that really mean to you and what does it mean about who you are and your ancestors and discovering them? And so the course will take you through the genealogical research process if you’ve done a DNA test as well as people who haven’t done a DNA test. That’s also an aspect of the course.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Kenyatta: So, it’s really kind of focused on the beginners, and it’s going to be a course that may be three to four hours long. I’ve learned a lot with self paced courses, right? You need to have a lot of interaction. You also know there are other competing things, right? Sometimes some people will be using this time to take courses, some people may be binging on Netflix, right?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kenyatta: [Laughs] So, if you’re competing with that, you know, making it interesting. So, that’s really kind of one thing I’ve been working on. But I’ve been thinking of doing online courses for some time. But another thing that made me kind of pull the trigger on it so to speak, and get it started now is that I have been part of a webinar series with Vivid-Pix and Dan Earl, who’s based out of Michigan, and it’s called Round Tuit, and is part of this webinar series. It’s a number of speakers. Judy Russell has been part of it, Blaine Bettinger, and a couple of other folks in which Dan interviews us and then we do webinars based on our area of expertise or choice, right? So, mine of course is African American genealogy. And it’s a live webinar, but you can purchase a recording. And what I liked about that is that it took aspects of how we’re interacting right now, part of an interview style, but also then maybe 25 to 30 minutes of a presentation, right, of content, and then a question and answer. So, we’ve seen a lot of good response with that and it’s still going on. So, if anyone is interested in learning more, you can go to Vivid-Pix.com/Education.

Fisher: Wow! Do you sleep much?

Kenyatta: I do. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kenyatta: Actually I do. I will tell you though, I have found myself getting up earlier than I did pre-tuit, so. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. I’ve never been so busy in life. You know, we started a new group.

Kenyatta: I know.

Fisher: I’m doing a few of these things myself and it’s just absolutely amazing. And you know what though? it’s a joy to do it at a time like this, because we know we’re helping a lot of people when they need something purposeful to do, so that there’s not this boredom. But there’s actually fulfillment and hopefully a lot of accomplishment. I mean, I think a lot of people can get years worth of research done in this short period of time compared to what it would have taken otherwise.

Kenyatta: I totally agree. And one of the things I think it kind of happened this weekend that I want to share. So, it dated back to the webinar on April 21st, my maternal grandmother passed away in Detroit. And she had a long illness. You’re never prepared for these things, right?

Fisher: No.

Kenyatta: But in doing that you know, I ‘m talking to my mom and they were at the funeral home Tuesday with her siblings and my mom’s texting me all this information or asking me all these questions you know, about my grandmother’s parents, their names, you know, my great grandmother’s maiden name, all of this information. And I was on the phone with one of my friends and I said I have to get off, my genealogy duties are calling.

Fisher: Calling. Yes.

Kenyatta: So, I went and got all the information, and what was so cool about it was that my mom, and I found myself saying things to her like, “The death certificate is only as good as the informant” right? Make sure you include all that information.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s true.

Kenyatta: And later on she sent me a text and she was like, “I never really understood what you did.” Right, So I kind of thought it was important, and I’m her only child s of course she’s going to be proud of what I do. But she said, “Going through this process really kind of made me understand more about it. And I thought that was so cool, right, to have my mom think about that. But then, as a follow-up what was so interesting is we had to start calling around because we’re now looking for people that died in the ‘60s and everyone is not in the same cemetery in Detroit. So, I’m on the phone and we’re calling funeral homes, we’re calling cemeteries, and my mom is like super excited. And I’m like, this is a good thing, but I also don’t know right now. Because you know, genealogy was like my thing, now my mom is hooked and I couldn’t believe that we spent three hours kind of going through everything. It was super fun.

Fisher: Yeah. But it’s validated you with mom. How does it get any better than that, right?

Kenyatta: It has. It has.

Fisher: I mean, I know you’ve had the same experience as I have where you find a second of third cousin, maybe even more distant, and you develop a relationship with them, and then the next thing you know they are deep in the weeds with it. And all of a sudden your relationship is often closer than a first cousin relationship or even a sibling thing because you’re talking all the time about family and there’s that energy especially for people who are just getting into it, that you can kind of feed off of. And I love that.

Kenyatta: Absolutely. And I have had that experience with my second cousin. We connected based on just a family history and her desire to learn more. And she’s writing a book about her branch of the family. And we talk all the time now. And two plus years ago we didn’t even know each other.

Fisher: You have now been caught up with Kenyatta Berry. And you know her from the Genealogy Roadshow. She’s the author of The Family Tree Toolkit. Kenyatta great to spend some time with you, and thanks for coming on.

Kenyatta: All right. Thanks so much for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, I’m going to talk to Jim Beidler from Legacy Tree Genealogists. He’s going to tell you about a record set that you might find extreme helpful in your Deutschland research, coming up on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show

Segment 3 Episode 330

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jim Beidler

Fisher: Back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it is time to speak a little a German. A little “sprechening” here with Jim Beidler, he is a research reports editor with our friends at Legacy Tree Genealogists, and Jim, welcome back to the show! I’m really interested in what you have to say because I have one German line but I’m missing some information and it sounds like you have a source that could help me out. I look forward to hearing about that, how to find it and some stories that you found from it.

Jim: Great to be back mein kommandant.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs] So, tell us about these German village genealogy books. I’ve never heard of them before and I know there are certain places like in Scandinavia that have farm records. Tell me about these German village genealogy books. They sound unique.

Jim: Yeah, they’re pretty unique to German speaking areas. They go by various handles in the German language, Ortssippenbuch, or Familienbüch, or Ortsfamilienbüch, and the nut of it is that they are village histories.

Fisher: Okay.

Jim: And sometimes they may include several villages that are part of one church parish. But generally, it’s one town. It has basically all the extent records of the town from the point of the beginning of those records, sometimes in the 1500s, up until the early 1900s and they’re organized in a very clever fashion. They’re essentially are like a dictionary of the families in the village.

Fisher: Nice.

Jim: They’re going A-Z and every individual gets a number that then is cross-referenced. The wife’s number for instance will be due to her family elsewhere in the book.

Fisher: Oh, wow. That’s awesome! Now this is kind of interesting because most people who have gotten into this realize that the old church records of Germany are fantastic, if you can get them, from the areas that they are from. And then when we get Napoleon coming into the area that kind of comes to a halt. Does this kind of pick up the slack from where they stopped in the early 1800s?

Jim: Yeah, then I guess I’d push back just a little bit. I mean, yes, there are many disruptions in Germany due to the Napoleonic era but the church records do continue, and in fact, these Ortssippenbucher they are compiled in many cases from the church records, but also civil registries, also tax registers. But for a lot of the vital events they rely either on the church records, or where they’re called Kirchenbücherduplikaten, which is the German way of saying “church book duplicates.”

Fisher: Right.

Jim: They were the early civil records that started in some parts of Germany late 1700s but across the entire German empire in the 1870s.

Fisher: So, this you mentioned goes up into the 1900s, do they continue to this day in some places?

Jim: Most of them were published after World War II and there’s a reason for that.

Fisher: Okay.

Jim: In a lot of cases these books source material was index cards that were put together by local historians during the Nazi period because people were having to prove that they were Aryan or at least not Jewish.

Fisher: Wow.

Jim: So, local historians would compile card files of all the church records of civil registers, so that they could easily compile these family trees for people. So, after the war what do we do with all these index card files? Well, despite the way you may go a little bit hard as far as they started they’ve been put to very, very good use by people with German speaking ancestry who now live around the world.

Fisher: Wow! That’s just incredible. Now, you were telling me off- air before we started that you’ve made an interesting discovery in your own line using these books, how did this all begin?

Jim: Yeah. Well, just about all of my ancestry is what we call, first wave German immigration to America, which is from Jamestown up until the Revolution. I have one single couple who are second-wavers who came to America in the 1830s and that couple they’re also my only urban ancestors. I found on each of their tombstones they were from different villages in the German state of Vredenburg.

Fisher: Wow!

Jim: Yeah. So, using that got me to the village and I thought, oh man, I’m going to have to flog through all of the church records written in German, cursive script that look like a chicken scratch.

Fisher: Oh, yeah. Ugh.

Jim: Instead, the next time I was at the family history library in Salt Lake, I find an Ortssippenbuch for the wife’s family and for the husband’s village and they took me straight back into the 1500s in both of their ancestries.



Fisher: Wow! First of all, that you would find the places they were born on their tombstones. I’ve never run into it myself. I’m sure others have but I’ve never had that experience and then to find the books. Now, are those books online then through FamilySearch.org?

Jim: Not by enlarged, no. But there is a known online source of them. The Germany based supersite CompGen.de. They’re kind of like the old RootsWeb was in America with a lot of different databases and so forth. Well, they have a database filled with the Ortssippenbuch. There’s hundreds now that they’ve put online searchable by name that you can look at. Actually, there are two good sources on CompGen.de. There are ones that are actually searchable and then there’s also like a bibliography of Ortssippenbucher, whether have them online or not which can at least verify for you has one been published for the village that you’re looking for.

Fisher: Sure. Now, what percentage of villages in Deutschland would you say has one of these books?

Jim: You know, the way I put it in a recent article is that there are tens of thousands of villages in Germany which is a real needle in a haystack. There are several thousand villages that do have these Ortssippenbucher. I want to say that it may be as high as a quarter of all the villages, I might be a little off the mystic there.

Fisher: Wow.

Jim: Because the leading offline source is actually the St. Louis County Library in Missouri. Their history and genealogy department, they have more than two thousand of the print versions of these.

Fisher: Ha.

Jim: Then Family History Library, they have probably close to a thousand and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. also had several hundred. So those are the leading repositories as far ones having print copies.

Fisher: Wow. Is there a lot of overlap between those?

Jim: Oh, there’s some overlap but they are distinct collections.

Fisher: When are the earliest books that you are aware of and when did they start?

Jim: You mean in terms of the records they include I believe?

Fisher: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: There are some that touchdown into the late 1400s. It goes back as far as a particular local generally their church records go because the church records are pretty much the earliest records that give mentions of common people.

Fisher: Yeah.

Jim: And those church records began to be kept with the reformation in the first half of the 1500s, not nearly all parish records survive all the way back to the reformation point but some do. So you might have burials from say 1550 that mentions someone born in the late 1400s.

Fisher: Wow. My experience with it was that I had a couple of lines as it branched out because my German lines just blew up at one point. I’m pretty complete for many generations back for my German ancestor who was born in 1768 and one line just turned into a thing of nobility and the nobility line is very well documented and goes back, I mean like a thousand year. [Laughs] It’s amazing.

Jim: Yes. Yeah if you can latch onto one of those, you’re special.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Jim: [Laughs] But most people do not have that.

Fisher: Thank you Jim. I feel so loved. Thank so much Jim, it’s great to talk to you once again and I’m looking forward to doing a little digging on this myself because I’m missing some death records on some people and maybe this will fill in the gaps.

Jim: Auf wieersehen there Fish.

Fisher: [Laughs] Back at you mein freund. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns from the New England Historic Genealogical Society for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes.

Segment 4 Episode 330

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher:  All right, it is time once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert back for the question. And David, we have an interesting question today. It is from Jolene Anderson of Greenville, South Carolina. She's 14 years old!

David: Okay. All right.

Fisher: And she says, "My mom says one of our relatives is my first cousin twice removed. What does it mean for my cousin to be removed?" That is a great question, Jolene. And you know what, she's not the only one who gets confused by that stuff, David.

David: No, that's true. I mean, for a while there, I just always would keep a chart nearby. I mean, look, the way you think about removed, Jolene, is to remember it’s a generation removed. So, like your mother is a generation removed from you. So her cousin would be your first cousin one generation removed or once removed.

Fisher: Right. And that cousin's kid would then be your second cousin, because you're the same distance from the same ancestor.

David: Um hmm, that's true. So, your grandparent's cousin would be two generations removed or your first cousin twice removed.

Fisher: Wow! See, I'm even confused now just thinking about it. But you're right, David, I mean, really, the simplest way to do this is figure out who the common ancestor is, come on down as many generations as it takes and figure out which one is the closest to that ancestor, okay? That's the generation where you terminate it. If that person shares grandparents with one of your parents, then you are a first cousin once removed. But if you are a grandchild of somebody who was a first cousin, that first cousin then is your first cousin twice removed. So, that's how it works. And it gets confusing, not only when you get into that, but then there's step children, right, that are brought to a marriage from somewhere else. There's half siblings and half cousins. A half cousin is somebody that only shares one grandparent instead of both and that can get challenging, too, especially when you get down to like half second cousins twice removed.

David: And if you're related to somebody generation wise, say, if you have an ancestor, you know, 10 generations back or so and you come down your line and you're equally, say, 8th or 9th cousins, because its every generation hasn't changed, that could be the same genetically as your 5th cousin three times removed as your 8th cousin. [Laughs] So it’s like, Blaine Bettinger’s shared centimorgan project is a useful tool.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: So you can now impress your mother, Jolene, and tell her that you know how you are related to these family members.

Fisher: And you know, this comes up a lot, David at reunions, right? You run into people, and a lot of people like to say that a first cousin once removed is a 2nd cousin or something like that. But I think just to call people cousin, that's close enough. It just means you're related, but not in the immediate family. But it is really interesting when you start to break that stuff down. And this, Jolene, gets really important when you start to do your DNA test, because as David kind of alluded to here a moment ago, you're going to find that there are different levels of shared centimorgans of DNA that will determine, you know, what the relationships are. And sometimes those shared centimorgans are the same for one relationship as they are for another, and that's where it’s important to kind of know somebody's age or somebody who's a generation older than you, then you know you're probably one generation different from that person. So, it gets really interesting when you get into the DNA and all that stuff, but don't get too tied up in the weeds on this. Just enjoy your reunions, enjoy your family and just understand as David said right at the beginning, it’s really all about differences in generation.

David: It really is. But now when you know a little bit more about your family tree, maybe you'll be able to document your distant, distant cousins and impress the socks off of everyone at the family reunions.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Even if they're virtual.

Fisher: Even if they're virtual, exactly. All right, that's a great question. Thanks so much, Jolene for it and hopefully that helps you out. We have another one coming up on Ask Us Anything when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 330

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. David Allen Lambert is here with us also from Stoughton, Massachusetts on the line for Ask Us Anything. And David, this actually comes your neck of the woods, Kittery, Maine where May Lin Bukowsky says, "I've been binge watching movies lately" as we all have,  “And saw the movie, In the Heart of The Sea, which was the inspiration for Moby Dick. I recently learnt that an ancestor may have been on a whaling ship out of Massachusetts in the 1800s. How do I find records that could help me verify this story? Thanks for all you guys do.” You are welcome, May Lin. And, David, this sounds like a question right up your alley.

David: Yeah, actually I think I can fish and get that story answered for you, Fish. New Bedford is really the capital of whaling on the northeast. In fact, the New Bedford Public Library had a WTA project many, many years back where they took all the old crew lists and copied them onto index cards. Well, fast forward to the 21st century, you can now search on their website crew lists from 1809 to 1927 when whaling was at its heyday. You can search the crew and on the vessel and on the destinations itself and you can find this website at, WhalingMuseum.org/Online_Exibits/CrewList. And now all you do is put in a search, you could put in the person's name and find out if they are on a whaling list. In fact, ironically, I have a great grandfather who was on a whaling ship in 1871. It was a barque, which is a type of a vessel based upon its sails. They can tell you what type of ship it is. It’s either a barque or a ship or, you know, different variations of the same. And A.L. Poor, my great grandfather was on a vessel for two and a half years.

Fisher: Huh!

David: And he sailed all the way out to Chile and then the ship hit another vessel and they made it onboard to another vessel and he made it back home to be eight months later married to his friend across the street, a girl that would have grew up with back in the Civil War, my great grandmother.

Fisher: Wow! So, you're saying then basically if he'd gone down with the ship, there would be no David Allen Lambert.

David: Well, there would be a 16th of me that wouldn't here I guess, yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it’s like, kind of like taking out, you know, one marble from a stack of them on a board or something, it changes everything, right, below it?

David: Oh sure.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I could have freckles and red hair.

Fisher: Sure, you could.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: But your whaler got through and that's the thing. I've got to tell you though, I am amazed by how many vessel records there are for crews, for passengers, the time periods that are out there. And I discovered that there are a couple of relatives that were actually crew members on ships I had no idea until I found their names coming up. And sometimes that also means there are photographs if they were like early 20th century, something like that. And I found two photos of relatives that they're the only known pictures of them in those databases.

David: Do you know what's great about the crew list? Sometimes you don't have a photograph, so like my great grandfather. I have photographs of him, but if I look at his crew list, it tells me he was 22 years old. He was 5 foot 5 and a half inches tall, he had dark skin and he had dark hair. So I can kind of visualize what he looked like.

Fisher: Isn't that great!

David: If I didn't have a picture, yeah.

Fisher: It’s very helpful.

David: And this was back in 1809.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs] All right, well, what a great question. So, thank you so much, May Lin for that. And of course if you ever have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email us at [email protected]. Dave thanks so much. We'll talk to you again next week.

David: Talk to you soon.

Fisher: All right, that wraps up another action packed episode of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Thanks once again to Kenyatta Berry for coming on the show and talking about her latest exploits, the great genealogist out of California, to Jim Beidler for sharing with us a key source of information for German research. If you missed any of this, you've got to catch the podcast, it’s on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio and Spotify. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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